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Unracking Heavy Bench Press

Past like 80% of my max I have quite a bit of trouble unracking heavy weight for the bench press. Now I know I could ask for a lift-off but at the gym I train at unfortunately most are ignorant of powerlifting and they’ll pull the weight too much and shoulders will come forward or they’ll spot you and help ASAP.

So I’m gonna try bench in the power rack (which I never really do) so I have safeties but, yes, the issue is unracking weight. Many times you hear people say to use your lats to get it to you; dragging the bar to your chest/belly and not pushing on it. But, yes, that’s impossible with the pegs on the rack I have and you need to press it a little.

Issue is, if I press it then my shoulders are going to naturally come forward and then mess up the whole thing.

So what do you guys do? I do see some train alone and go for maxes so it’s definitely doable.

Edit: Like Mike here does it fine and that’s a huge weight although not sure what % it is for him:

I have the exact same issue, the best I can do is just ask for a spotter and hope they don’t suck. It’s just part and parcel of a PL setup bench it seems. Sounds like your racks have massive pins as mine do, making it similarly hard to unracking on a standalone bench press. Unracking is fine with “bodybuilding” setup, but the ROM kills my shoulders and therefore allows for little progression. Such is my benching woes.

I’m thinking I can do it in the rack and thus not even need to ask someone but the unracking is the only issue. Personally 90% of the time the person is going to suck. That’s too often. If I’m trying to hit a PR, say, and 90% of the time it’s ruined then I’d rather not.

Can anyone enlighten me on how Mike or others like Clint Darden do it?

What helps me stay tight while unracking is going for leg drive while taking the bar out. Not enough to bring your ass off the bench, but enough so you’re WAY up on your traps while you’re taking the bar out. I haven’t mastered this yet, but it definitely helps when I remember to do it. I also have benches/poweracks that are hard to unrack from while staying tight.

Does this help?

I’ve seen that. Thing is, he’s probably talking about using a Forza bench or something awesome. My hooks have small 90 degree on them (at right-angle) so you can’t simply drag it unless it’s only the bar. After that you need to press it a little.

Well I can’t watch the videos, but if you’re going to be benching from the rack couldn’t you just move the pins lower so you don’t have to unrack at full extension? That way you can keep your scapulae retracted. I find it also helps to position yourself so the bar is over your neck when racked, rather than over your face.

Are you sure you just don’t suck at letting people know how you want them to spot you?

[quote]Fletch1986 wrote:
Are you sure you just don’t suck at letting people know how you want them to spot you?[/quote]

It’s a university gym and most people are the typical “bros” you find at a commercial gym.

Most of the time I’ll tell them many times just to give me a lift-off and that’s it. I’d rather just fail and have it on my chest for a while till someone notices. Usually they’re wannabe bodybuilders and thus they think I want to get some forced reps in or want help on each one etc.

[quote]Cimmerian wrote:
Well I can’t watch the videos, but if you’re going to be benching from the rack couldn’t you just move the pins lower so you don’t have to unrack at full extension? That way you can keep your scapulae retracted. I find it also helps to position yourself so the bar is over your neck when racked, rather than over your face.[/quote]

Yes I was thinking this but I don’t know if it works in practice. Will try next time I’m at the gym.

I constantly forget to tell people exactly how I want to be spotted, and it sucks. But if I do tell them, it usually turns out to be at least minimally acceptable. Also it helps if you are working up to get them to spot you on a set or two before a PR attempt so you can try to tweak it some. If that still doesnt sound good, just set the pins down a notch and press it off. You will lose some from doing that partial rep, and it might hurt your form/setup a bit though.

Just tell them:

  1. Lift off and bring it out to me some, heavy lift off but keep it low (don’t raise me out off the bench, just barely clear the pins).
  2. Don’t touch the bar unless I ask for it.

It really is that simple. I lifted in a commercial gym for years and always managed to get a decent lift off saying that.

As I said, I know it sounds simple and easy but people ARE that stupid. That is why I’m asking for help - I’d much rather not require the help of others who don’t know anything.

[quote]LiquidMercury wrote:
Just tell them:

  1. Lift off and bring it out to me some, heavy lift off but keep it low (don’t raise me out off the bench, just barely clear the pins).
  2. Don’t touch the bar unless I ask for it.

It really is that simple. I lifted in a commercial gym for years and always managed to get a decent lift off saying that.[/quote]

I’m going try that, never occurred to me they could be lifting off too high and bringing me out of position)

[quote]michael_xyz wrote:
As I said, I know it sounds simple and easy but people ARE that stupid. That is why I’m asking for help - I’d much rather not require the help of others who don’t know anything.[/quote]

I’m aware you may think they’re stupid, again your situation isn’t unique. Take some time to culture a decent relationship with a few randoms at the gym, who knows they may even turn into your friend and possibly a decent training partner (has happened a few times with me).

If you want to move the most weight possible, getting a decent unrack is going to help big time. If you’re bringing your shoulder through 30 degrees or so of rotation chances are you’re going to end up with a loose upper back.

OP did you check the comments from the Tuchscherer vid you posted?

"6. Set up underneath the bar

Getting used to no lift off for bench pressing can take time. You can do what I did and get a setup with self-liftoff capability (breaker bench, crepinsek rack). But in the meantime, what should you do? I still do the majority of my bench work off the conventional side of my rack because self-liftoff is a skill and I want to stay in good practice with it.

Some things to remember: set up underneath the bar. You should set up further underneath the bar (eyes or chin directly under) when you are by yourself. This is so your leverages are better for the solo-liftoff. Then, when you are ready to pick up the weight, take a deep breath and push with the legs (even to the point of raising your butt for the liftoff only). Once you are holding the weight at arm?s length, let it settle for a moment before beginning to press. This is also demonstrated in the solo shirt work videos (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_6iTeqYLQM)."

I set up pretty much like this and have had pretty much no issues with unracking since I started doing it.

Oh damn that’s silly of me - no I didn’t. Thanks!

@Mercury: I have made some lifting friends from there but I only require help once a week for that period of like 10-15 minutes so it’s a lot of chance whether they are there or not.

Thanks for posting that jab, it’s definitely something to bare in mind/practice this week benching.

[quote]michael_xyz wrote:
Oh damn that’s silly of me - no I didn’t. Thanks!

@Mercury: I have made some lifting friends from there but I only require help once a week for that period of like 10-15 minutes so it’s a lot of chance whether they are there or not.[/quote]

Worse case scenario, go ask the hottest chick in the gym for a spot.

  1. She probably won’t help you for shit because she isn’t very strong thus leading me to the next point.

  2. You’ll definitely lift the weight as you do not want to seem like a weak ass bitch in front of said super hot girl.

It’s a win win. You meet/talk to super hot girl and you set a PR.